A key focus for a business is managing growth expectations, explains Steve Winder, regional vice president, UK and Ireland for Epicor Software.
In today’s environment, managing growth successfully requires an enhanced ability to communicate and collaborate frequently and effectively.
Over the years, collaboration techniques have changed dramatically, especially as there have been rapid changes with technology.
For example, with more web-based applications and quicker internet speeds, collaboration is quickly becoming a shortcut to improved productivity.
Smart businesses understand that they have to be part of these changes, as more people require access to the data and applications outside the office at any time of day.
Why do businesses need to collaborate?
Collaboration within the enterprise provides a competitive advantage.
This is particularly true in highly volatile and fast moving markets or where complex processes are used, as it provides increased transparency and joins ‘silos’ of departments together.
And it’s not just for larger enterprises; smaller or medium-sized organisations (SMEs) will benefit too as these technologies become more accessible to everyone.
By bringing people together from different departments, different locations, or different companies to share their expertise, collaboration can stretch beyond the four walls of a business.
With conversations creating new insight within an organisation, and with customers and suppliers across the extended supply chain, collaboration enables smarter and faster decision-making.
Collaboration can also contribute significantly to the growth of a business, including increased sales due to improved knowledge transfer; access to new markets; increased capacity, and improvements in efficiency and effectiveness, as well as cost savings.
The companies who understand this concept and embrace the change, will be the ones who will grow the fastest.
How technology has changed traditional collaboration
Technology has changed the face of collaboration. Not only do all areas of the businesses need to be aligned, so do staff – especially on a global scale.
It’s important for staff members to be able to be connected to the business and with each other using their devices of choice.
More employees are now using mobile devices for work and keeping themselves updated via social platforms rather than the traditional email and telephone communication.
These dynamic ways of collaborating can increase employee engagement and lead to greater results. Social technologies that increase collaboration have therefore become an integrated part of existing enterprise applications.
It’s all about accessing data and revealing key insights for better and faster decision making at every level in the organisation, through product development to services, marketing and customer engagement.
Well-known social networking concepts like message streams; hash tags; status updates, and subscriptions simplify the sharing and distribution of information, requesting advice, actions or opinions.
This in turn speeds up the resolution of problems and the identification of opportunities – essentially leveraging collective knowledge, experience and skills.
The right technology for your team
One way for businesses to collaborate effectively is utilising their enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution. ERP applications traditionally focused on processing transactions, but the new generation of platforms can contribute with so much more.
The tools provided in modern ERP platforms not only offer a lot of flexibility in how businesses can collaborate, but also allow the users to personalise and choose how and when to use them.
This simplicity and ease of access increases engagement, collaboration and continuous improvement to boost productivity and provide significant opportunity to gain a competitive advantage.
Next-generation ERP solutions now have “social business’’ functionality. With social ERP businesses can have a true record of what is happening in real-time (and what has previously happened), this can be seen as the organisation’s collective brain.
Previously, this type of information would not have been available and according to the latest report from Aberdeen Group, businesses who use social ERP are 2.5 times as likely to have real-time visibility into the status of all processes.
As employees have more flexible access and better visibility to the data, this in turn reduces training and learning times with the focus turned to much faster time to value.
Modern ERP platforms are supported by open and flexible architectures that encourage and embrace the integration of other applications, enable greater collaboration with business partners, and leverage new technologies without requiring the replacement of entire infrastructures or applications.
ERP solutions are therefore becoming more agile, more adaptive and more flexible—all of which lowers the total cost of ownership and encourages business to think more strategically about how they can use technology to drive competitive advantage.
Why is this move towards collaboration within ERP important?
Those who leverage ERP to drive efficiency and customer service will compete effectively, but those who adopt a more mature approach to customer experience that goes beyond price and delivery performance and builds collaborative relationships are the ones who become market leaders.
Collaboration is the key!